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New East Belfast Bus Lanes
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New East Belfast Bus Lanes

Following the road chaos in East Belfast over what seems to be years now, the new department covering the Rapid Transport scheme, the Department for Infrastructure has announced the opening of new bus lanes on the Upper Newtownards Road in the East of the City.

The new bus lanes which are located between Holywood Arches and Sandown Road at Ballyhackamore, will be introduced on Monday 27 June 2016. The completion of this phrase will see the two bus lanes in essence operating between Knock and the Holywood Arches both city-bound and country-bound from 7:30am to 9:30am and from 3:30pm to 6:30pm Monday to Friday.

Whilst the DFI is keen to promote that these new lanes, which form part of the Belfast rapid transport scheme, will provide increased priority for buses on this key public transport route and should lead to a faster and more efficient service, some businesses and residents along the route remain concerned. What will it mean for the school run in the morning, school pick up in the afternoon and shops who operate during these times and what will it mean when the scheme is complete and both East Belfast & West Belfast find themselves with bus lanes operating city and country bound for the full length of the day, 12 hours a day between 7am to 7pm?

In their statement the DFI state: “The bus lanes already introduced have contributed to a significant increase in the use of public transport on the route, with around 4,000 additional passenger journeys per week. This reflects the benefits offered by the new Park & Ride at Dundonald and the enhanced bus priority on the route.”

A Department for Infrastructure (DfI) spokesperson said: “This is another key step in the delivery of the Belfast Rapid Transit system. This vital infrastructure project will connect East Belfast, West Belfast and Titanic Quarter via the city centre.

“The new bus lanes will support a faster, more reliable bus service for people travelling along the Upper Newtownards Road. We have already seen a growing number of people switching to the bus on this key route and a modern, safe, efficient and high quality public transport service will increase this further.

“In order that motorists will have the opportunity to get used to the new arrangements we have introduced the bus lanes at the start of the summer months while traffic levels are traditionally lower.”

When the Belfast Rapid Transit system becomes operational in 2018 the route in East Belfast will run from Dundonald Park & Ride, via the Upper Newtownards Road and Albertbridge Road, to the city centre. It will continue from there through to the Colin area of West Belfast.

DfI would ask drivers to take extra care when travelling on this stretch of the Upper Newtownards Road until they are familiar with the new arrangements.

Question?

What is your view on these bus lanes, on the wider Belfast Rapid Transport Scheme? Where you consulted on the new 12 hour bus lanes or the £5.6 million which was spent in 2015/16 on the Belfast Rapid Transit scheme across East and West Belfast alone? Is it value for money to have spent all this money when the end result appears to be to the layman, the reclamation of about a foot and half of pavement, the painting of bus lanes and the queues of non-rapid transport traffic? Join the conversation on twitter @simply_belfast



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